Gold in the rubbish

VALUABLE: Jewellery (inset) is often found in the rubbish. Credit: Aviano Ait Base/Pixabay.

VALUABLE: Jewellery (inset) is often found in the rubbish.
Credit: Aviano Ait Base/Pixabay.

WHERE there’s muck, there’s brass. In the case of the Casares rubbish plant €35,0000 a year of it. 

This is the value of coins and jewellery that the waste disposal facility finds annually. 

It is one of only four plants in the country that has machinery capable of sorting valuables out of the 350,000 tons of waste it processes each year. 

Plant management says they find €20,000 worth of coins – mostly 10 cent pieces – and another €15,000 of jewellery that has been thrown out with the rubbish. 

All the valuables found go through a rigorous cleaning process. The coins are sent to the Bank of Spain. Any that are too damaged are destroyed and then the bank credits the value of the rest back to the company. 

Jewellery is valued by experts and put on to a computerised register that will soon be available on a website. A brief description will be given. Owners wanting to reclaim their lost valuables must detail the characteristics of the jewellery and provide an invoice or photographs showing that the piece is theirs. The most frequently found are rings. 

By law the waste disposal company must keep the jewellery for a minimum of two years to allow people to reclaim it. 

Up until three years ago, all these pieces went to landfill after the treatment of organic waste. But new machinery designed to remove glass from the waste was installed, and this started finding the valuables. 

 Urbaser, as owner of the plant, and Casares Town Council have reached an agreement for the company to set up as a Lost and Found Office responsible for the management and custody of these objects.  

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Written by

Dilip Kuner

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